Here’s a stat that will make you scratch your head (and arms): Around 60% of the material that’s used for our clothing is made from plastic.
That makes us uncomfy for more reasons than just an itchy sweater. The fashion industry is known for being one of the largest contributors to global pollution — it accounts for 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions — and polyester is one of the worst offenders.
With the average consumer buying 60% more clothing than they did 15 years ago, this spells a big problem for the environment.
To tackle the poly problem, Alt Tex is dreaming up a way to make fabrics out of food waste.
The Toronto-based company, founded in 2020 by Myra Arshad and Avneet Ghotra, has a team of 15 researchers racing toward commercialization.
Alt Tex says its proprietary technology is the first in the world to convert food waste into fabric that combines all the perks of synthetic materials with the environmental goodness of biodegradability.
To do this, the company collects food waste from manufacturers that would otherwise be thrown into landfills. Then, through its proprietary scientific process:
The food waste is combined with microbes and fermented
The material made from the fermentation process is turned into high-strength polymers
Additives are combined with the polymers to make them stronger and more flexible, creating a resin
The resin is melted and compressed with traditional polyester machinery, and fibers are extruded
The fibers are spun into yarn
The yarn is woven or knit into different fabrics
The resulting fabrics will then be sold to fashion retailers to be made into clothes, just as the traditional fabric market currently works.
This process will, hopefully, allow the startup to reach its lofty environmental goals: to divert 150k tons of food waste and prevent 750 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Alt Tex has already raised $1.3m in pre-seed funding and is currently looking for brand partners and food waste suppliers to allow for scaling.
With the global polyester market reaching an estimated $164.3B by 2027, Alt Tex has its work cut out for it.
But I, for one, look forward to answering “landfill” when someone asks where I got my sweater.